The Block Island Times

Senior board seeks to update town alert system

By Gloria S. Redlich | Jun 26, 2013

At the June 18 meeting of the Senior Advisory Committee, members unanimously expressed their concern that the town’s communication system was inadequate when it came to notifying residents and visitors of an emergency or other event requiring the broad dissemination of information.

The group worried that in the situation of a dangerous weather event or some other emergency, there would be no clear plan available for people to follow. “With weather conditions getting worse, it seems to me we need to have more information,” Chair Gail Pierce said. She noted that the island school did have an electronic system by which families might be notified in emergencies or when there was an incident affecting the entire school community.

Committee members decided they would each research emergency alert systems they had identified, report back on them at the next meeting and then determine an approach to the Town Council on the issue. Among these programs are Global Connect, Reverse 911, Red Alert, TMZ, Code Red and TRZ — the latter system is used at the local school.

On another safety issue, member Sandra Kelly suggested that there might also be community interest in learning about a new CPR method which relied on repeated compressions as a successful means of resuscitation. She had learned about it from a video sent her by a friend. She suggested working with the Rescue Squad to offer a program in which the information could be shared.

Coordinator job description

Regarding the search for a new senior coordinator, the group discussed what might be added or deleted from the job description. With Kathleen Mitchell stepping down from the post, the consensus of members was to fine-tune some features of the position. To that end, the group tightened the job description language to assure that in carrying out the responsibilities of the post, the senior coordinator would always act “with the authorization and approval of the committee.”

“I think the coordinator should also maintain a notebook in which he or she records attendance and fees collected at senior events,” Kelly added.

Pierce asked Deputy Town Clerk Millie McGinnes what the best approach to advertising the position would be. “I think that you established a reasonable pattern last time: advertise early; consider applications and begin interviewing in July and select a candidate and make an appointment in August for a September start,” McGinnes said.

Agreeing, the advisory group planned to start running an ad in this weekend’s Block Island Times.


Pierce noted that though her appointment had ended, Mitchell was still involved in a few outreach projects: one was a mentoring program to be developed with students at the Block Island School, with Teri McCombe as the contact person; the second was the school garden. Pierce’s sense was that Mitchell wanted to complete what she had begun.

Reporting on the Block Island Bulletin Board, Kelly said there were currently 269 members, who had put up a total of 1300 postings to date.

Uncertain about the effectiveness of their brochure, “Senior Moments,” the group decided to have them printed only on an as-needed basis. However, they agreed to continue distributing them — requesting that the Power Company officials include them with their mailings, as they have done in the past.

With the committee wishing to keep sponsoring FISH (Friends in Service Helping), Pierce said, “We always seem to have more volunteers than those needing help.” She urged community members to contact her (at 466-5470) if they or others they know needed assistance with services such as meals, transportation or with personal or household tasks.

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